Blur prove perfect headliners at Electric Picnic

By Ed Power

Blur - Electric Picnic Saturday, Main Stage

Blur proved perfect Electric Picnic headliners, with a set that balanced challenging new material and Britpop classics.

Raffish in a bulky leather jacket, frontman Damon Albarn exulted in the spotlight, trading high-fives with uber-fans in the front row and leading the huge main stage audience through the band's apparently limitless repertoire of slyly witty terrace-anthems.

What more could anyone want from Saturday night at a rock festival?

Damon Albarn performing at last night's Electric Picnic. Pic: Conor McCabe

The stereotype of Blur as purveyors of mockney art-pop was, of course, unambiguously demolished by this year's Magic Whip.

The quartet's first new collection since reforming in 2009, the album confirmed that Albarn and his lieutenants have always been far stranger than their designation as Britpop's most ardent flag-wavers.

Feverish, proudly avant-garde and obsessed with ice cream, here was surely the strangest LP to debut at the top of the charts in recent memory.

Headlining the second night of Electric Picnic, Blur doubled down on the album's off-kilter sensibility.

Against a backdrop of giant neon ice creams, the group's first three songs were off Magic Whip – making it clear this was not going to be the box ticking 'best of' revue artists typically uncork at festivals.

Far from exulting in old glories, Blur stood before us as a fascinating work in progress.

When the hits finally came they benefitted from the band's combative zeal.

Featuring vocals by guitarist Graham Coxon 'Coffee + TV' pulsed with furtive humor while 'For Tomorrow' and the bouncing 'Girls and Boys' were a reminder that Blur are past masters at blending the throwaway and the profound.

Only 'Parklife', with its call and response chorus and silly, stream of consciousness lyrics, played out exactly as expected.

But that was just fine too.


 

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